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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Maya the Bee Movie is based on a classic German children's book character. Baby bee Maya wants to see life beyond the hive and befriend other bugs, but she's repeatedly told that bees don't associate with non-bees -- and definitely not dim-witted ants, stinky dung beetles, or bloodthirsty hornets. But Maya is brave and friendly to others, and ultimately this is a story of inclusion and friendship that's fine for older preschoolers and kindergarten-aged viewers. There are some threatening hornets and a couple of scarier moments when it looks like a character is hurt. But all is well, and thanks to Maya, all the bugs in the meadow learn about the spirit of cooperation and friendship.
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What's the story?
MAYA THE BEE MOVIE follows the adventures of curious baby bee Maya (voiced by Coco Jack Gillies), who's so excited to learn everything about being a bee that she inadvertently keeps breaking bee colony rules. The elder Queen Bee (Miriam Margolyes) thinks Maya is cute, but the queen's rigid advisor, Buzzlina (Jacki Weaver), thinks she's a pest. After Maya escapes the hive and makes the acquaintance of a grasshopper and a young hornet, she returns ready to share her stories ... but is promptly banished by Buzzlina. Meanwhile, Buzzlina has a nefarious plan to frame the hornets for stealing the season's crop of royal jelly so she'll have an excuse to wage war against them.
Is it any good?
The story works on a lot of levels, even if younger viewers may not fully understand all of the messages at first viewing. Based on the classic German children's book The Adventures of Maya the Bee by Waldemar Bonsels, this Australian-German collaboration will bring the popular character to new audiences. Maya is a sweetly curious and clever character who may question (and break) rules, but only because she genuinely thinks bees would be better off befriending -- rather than antagonizing -- other insects.
The voice actors are well cast, particularly Weaver, who's great at doing "calm but imperious." American audiences may notice that the militarized ants and the aggressive hornets have American accents, while the civilized bees have English/Aussie accents. It's more amusing than offensive, of course, but even younger kids may remark on it. Still, Maya and her pals are so charming that their quest for insect solidarity should warm viewers' hearts, even if the animation in Maya the Bee Movie isn't on the same level as big-budget Disney, Sony, or Studio Ghibli productions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why animal movies like Maya the Bee Movie are so popular with kids. What are some of the best ones? Why do you think so many of them are animated?
What is Maya the Bee Movie's message about inclusion and friendship? Why should we not discriminate against anyone based on their differences from us? How does the movie promote empathy? Why is this an important character strength?
What makes Maya a positive role model? Is she perfect? Does a role model have to be?
- In theaters: March 8, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: May 19, 2015
- Cast: Miriam Margolyes, Jacki Weaver, Coco Jack Gillies
- Director: Alexs Stadermann
- Studio: Shout! Factory
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters, Bugs, Friendship
- Character Strengths: Empathy
- Run time: 79 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: September 27, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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